Posts Tagged ‘Muslims’

Myanmar army’s admission of killings a ‘positive step’: Suu Kyi

January 13, 2018

AFP

© AFP/File | Rights groups have accused Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi of failing to condemn the widespread abuses during Myanmar’s army crackdown

YANGON (AFP) – Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has welcomed an unprecedented army admission that security forces carried out extra-judicial killings of Rohingya Muslims as a “positive step”, state-backed media reported Saturday.After months of staunch denials of abuse, the army on Wednesday said a probe found four members of the security forces helped kill 10 Rohingya militant suspects at Inn Din village on September 2, leaving their bodies in a hastily dug pit.

Some 655,000 Rohingya have fled western Rakhine state to Bangladesh since August, carrying with them consistent accounts of atrocities by Myanmar’s army.

Rights groups have accused Nobel Laureate Suu Kyi of failing to condemn the widespread abuses during the army crackdown, which followed raids by militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).

After meeting the Japanese foreign minister on Friday Suu Kyi raised the army’s admission of involvement in the Inn Din killings as a “new step taken by our country”.

“In the end, rule of law in the country is the responsibility of that country. It is a positive indication that we are taking the steps to be responsible,” she added, according to a report carried by the Global New Light of Myanmar.

Myanmar’s army has a grim track record of rights abuses chiselled out across the country over 50 years of rule.

Observers hoped the emergence of Suu Kyi’s civilian government in 2016 would see the army ease up on its notorious “scorched earth” approach to rebellion and conflict.

The unrelenting Rohingya crackdown banished those hopes.

Amnesty International has called the summary killings at Inn Din “the tip of the iceberg” in terms of atrocities carried out since August and urged a wider, impartial probe.

But the conflict area of Rakhine remains locked down to media, aid agencies and UN investigators.

ARSA, the Rohingya militant group, “wholeheartedly” welcomed the army’s admission saying it validated the wider allegations of abuses including a campaign of rape and murder and the systematic torching of villages.

“These 10 Rohingya innocent civilians found in the mass grave… were neither ARSA members nor had any association with ARSA,” it said in a statement circulated on Twitter.

The UN and US have accused Myanmar’s army of ethnic cleansing, with the UN rights chief saying it may even be guilty of genocide.

Image result for Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, photos

Commander-in-chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing

Myanmar refutes the allegations, blaming militants for causing the violence and the international media and aid agencies for spreading false information due to a pro-Rohingya bias.

The Rohingya are reviled in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where most are denied citizenship and described as “Bengalis” — or Muslim interlopers from Bangladesh.

burs-apj/jah

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UN says Trump slur on ‘shithole’ countries is ‘shocking’ and ‘racist’

January 12, 2018

Spokesman Rupert Colville says US president’s comments open the door to ‘humanity’s worst side,’ ‘go against universal values’

From agencies
The Times of Israel

The United Nations on Friday slammed US President Donald Trump’s reported description of African nations and Haiti as “shithole” countries as “shocking and shameful,” and “racist.”

Trump on Thursday questioned why the US would accept more immigrants from Haiti and “shithole countries” in Africa rather than places like Norway in rejecting a bipartisan immigration deal.

Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that “you cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes.’”

Colville said that the comments, if confirmed, were “shocking and shameful” and “I’m sorry, but there’s no other word one can use but racist.”

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US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on prison reform in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, January 11, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB)

He also took issue with Trump’s reported suggestion that the United States should welcome immigrants from places like Norway, whose population is overwhelmingly white, instead of from African countries and Haiti.

“The positive comment on Norway makes the underlying sentiment very clear,” Colville said.

He said Trump’s reported comment could endanger lives by potentially fanning xenophobia.

“Like the earlier comments made vilifying Mexicans and Muslims, the policy proposals targeting entire groups on grounds of nationality or religion, and the reluctance to clearly condemn the anti-Semitic and racist actions of the white supremacists in Charlottesville — all of these go against the universal values the world has been striving so hard to establish since World War II and the Holocaust,” he said.

“This is not just a story about vulgar language. It’s about opening the door wider to humanity’s worst side, about validating and encouraging racism and xenophobia that will potentially disrupt and destroy the lives of many people.

“This is perhaps the single most damaging and dangerous consequence of this type of comment by a major political figure,” he added.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/un-says-trump-slur-on-shithole-countries-is-racist/

‘Germany to cap yearly refugee arrivals at about 200,000’

January 12, 2018
© AFP/File | Migrants and refugees walk to cross the Greek-Macedonian border near Idomeni on November 24, 2015

BERLIN (AFP) – 

Germany will limit the number of asylum seeker arrivals to around 200,000 annually under a draft coalition agreement sealed Friday in marathon talks between the country’s two biggest parties.

“We determine that the number of new arrivals… should not exceed the range of 180,000 to 220,000 per year,” according to a copy of the document agreed by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democrats obtained by AFP.

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An asylum seeker takes a selfie with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Getty Images

On the thorny issue of family reunions for asylum seekers granted temporary refuge, the preliminary accord says current restrictions should be loosened.

The agreement calls for parliament to pass a law by the end of July allowing 1,000 family members per month to come to Germany.

Merkel long resisted a strict upper limit on asylum seekers coming to Europe’s top economy, as demanded by her CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union.

But after winning an election with a reduced majority in September, she agreed to a soft cap on Germany’s refugee intake in a bid to silence bitter squabbling within her conservative camp.

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Merkel’s decision to let in more than one million people fleeing war and misery from 2015 has proved deeply divisive in Germany.

The anti-immigration Alternative for Germany capitalised on voter anger over the issue to score 12.6 percent in the general election, a record for a far-right party in the post-war period.

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Social Media Is Making Us Dumber. Here’s Exhibit A. (Tribal allegiances are replacing shared empirical understandings of the world.) — Facebook and Google threaten public health – and democracy

January 12, 2018

By JESSE SINGAL

The New York Times
JAN. 11, 2018

Harvard University Professor Steven Pinker Credit Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg, via Getty Images

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This week, a video surfaced of a Harvard professor, Steven Pinker, which appeared to show him lauding members of a racist movement. The clip, which was pulled from a November event at Harvard put on by Spiked magazine, showed Mr. Pinker referring to “the often highly literate, highly intelligent people who gravitate to the alt-right” and calling them “internet savvy” and “media savvy.”

The clip went viral. The right celebrated; the left fumed. The neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website ran an article headlined, in part, “Harvard Jew Professor Admits the Alt-Right Is Right About Everything.” A tweet of the video published by the self-described “Right-Wing Rabble-Rouser” Alex Witoslawski got hundreds of retweets, including one from the white-nationalist leader Richard Spencer.

“Steven Pinker has long been a darling of the white supremacist ‘alt-right,’” noted the lefty journalist Ben Norton. “And he returns the favor.” Others reacted to the rumor with simple exasperation: “Christ on a crutch,” said the liberal commentator and biologist PZ Myers, who also wrote a blog post denouncing Mr. Pinker for this supposed alliance.

The idea that Mr. Pinker, a liberal, Jewish psychology professor, is a fan of a racist, anti-Semitic online movement is absurd on its face, so it might be tempting to roll your eyes and dismiss this blowup as just another instance of social media doing what it does best: generating outrage.

But it’s actually a worthwhile episode to unpack, because it highlights a disturbing, worsening tendency in social media in which tribal allegiances are replacing shared empirical understandings of the world. Or maybe “subtribal” is the more precise, fitting term to use here. It’s one thing to say that left and right disagree on simple facts about the world — this sort of informational Balkanization has been going on for a while and long predates Twitter. What social media is doing is slicing the salami thinner and thinner, as it were, making it harder even for people who are otherwise in general ideological agreement to agree on basic facts about news events.

That’s because the pernicious social dynamics of these online spaces hammer home the idea that anyone who disagrees with you on any controversial subject, even a little bit, is incorrigibly dumb or evil or suspect. On a wide and expanding range of issues, there’s no such thing as good-faith disagreement.

The online anger aimed at Mr. Pinker provides a perfect case study.

The clip was deeply misleading. If you watch the whole eight-minute video from which it was culled, it’s clear that Mr. Pinker’s entire point is that the alt-right’s beliefs are false and illogical — but that the left needs to do a better job fighting against them.

The clip begins with Mr. Pinker saying he agrees with the other panelists (two journalists and a lawyer) that “political correctness has done an enormous amount of harm in the sliver of the population that might be — I wouldn’t want to say ‘persuadable,’ but certainly whose affiliation might be up for grabs.” This problem presents itself when it comes to “the often highly literate, highly intelligent people who gravitate to the alt-right: internet savvy, media savvy, who often are radicalized in that way, who ‘swallow the red pill,’ as the saying goes, the allusion from ‘The Matrix.’”

Mr. Pinker goes on to argue that when members of this group encounter, for the first time, ideas that he believes to be frowned upon or suppressed in liberal circles — that most suicide bombers are Muslim or that members of different racial groups commit crimes at different rates — they are “immediately infected with both the feeling of outrage that these truths are unsayable” and are provided with “no defense against taking them to what we might consider to be rather repellent conclusions.”

That’s unfortunate, Mr. Pinker argues, because while someone might use these facts to support bigoted views, that needn’t be the case, because “for each one of these facts, there are very powerful counterarguments for why they don’t license racism and sexism and anarcho-capitalism and so on.”

He then goes on to carefully explain those counterarguments: For example, while at the moment it’s true that, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the homicide rate is higher for blacks than for whites, that doesn’t really tell us anything about a group of people since at different times in history, different groups have had elevated crime rates — at one point Irish-Americans did. By that same token, he says, “the majority of domestic terrorism is committed by right-wing extremist groups,” not Muslims.

It would be impossible for a reasonable person to watch the eight-minute video and come away thinking Mr. Pinker’s point is to praise the alt-right rather than to make a psychological argument about political correctness, alt-right recruitment and how to better fight that movement’s bigoted ideas

Now, maybe you disagree with certain parts of this argument — I do, in that I think Mr. Pinker overstates the intensity of campus political correctness — but it’s hard to have that debate in the first place when such a wildly skewed version of Mr. Pinker’s point is spreading like wildfire on the internet.

Steven Pinker will be O.K. A fleeting Twitter blowup isn’t going to bruise his long and successful career as a public intellectual. But this is happening more and more — and in many cases to people who don’t have the standing and reputation he does.

It’s getting harder and harder to talk about anything controversial online without every single utterance of an opinion immediately being caricatured by opportunistic outrage-mongers, at which point everyone, afraid to be caught exposed in the skirmish that’s about to break out, rushes for the safety of their ideological battlements, where they can safely scream out their righteousness in unison. In this case: “Steven Pinker said the alt-right is good! But the alt-right is bad! We must defend this principle!”

This is making us dumber.

Jesse Singal (@jessesingal) is a contributing writer for New York magazine and is working on a book about why social-science ideas go viral.

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How Facebook and Google threaten public health – and democracy

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/11/facebook-google-public-health-democracy

‘You Want a Girl? How Many?’: Tapes Reveal How Right-wing Group Tried to Make East Jerusalem Jewish

January 10, 2018

Right-wing groups often used coercion tactics to acquire Palestinian property in East Jerusalem

By Nir Hasson Jan 10, 2018 4:31 PM
Haaretz

Matityahu Dan, chairman of the Ateret Cohanim organization, holds a Torah scroll as part of a Jewish procession in Silwan in East Jerusalem last year

Matityahu Dan, chairman of the Ateret Cohanim organization, holds a Torah scroll as part of a Jewish procession in Silwan in East Jerusalem last year Olivier Fitoussi

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“You want a girl? One, two, how many do you want … how old do you want?” The speaker is Matityahu Dan, chairman of the Ateret Cohanim organization and a driving force behind Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem. He is offering a girl, plus Viagra if needed, to the Palestinian owner of a property his organization seeks to acquire.

The above conversation took place about two decades ago. Since then, Ateret Cohanim has acquired many properties.

This and other recordings obtained by Haaretz offer a glimpse into how Jewish groups acquire Palestinian property in East Jerusalem. In them, Dan and other Ateret Cohanim employees, including the group’s attorney, Eitan Geva, speak freely about how their end justifies any means. Aside from offering sex services (as long as the girls aren’t Jewish), they threaten to publicize the negotiations, which could endanger the Palestinian owner’s life, if he refuses to sell.

In one recording, Geva tells an owner’s family, “Either you close up the place and transfer it to us, or you go to court and it’ll be a blunder: It will become clear that your father or your husband did all this for the Jews, as an agent of the Jews. There are two ways to do this, quietly or noisily. For you, quietly is better.”

Dan also describes ways to obscure transactions, including the use of fictitious intermediaries and companies registered in overseas tax shelters. In addition, he discusses a man called “Hai.” A former close associate of Dan’s said “Hai” is a senior official of the Greek Orthodox Church who helped Dan to acquire church properties with Palestinian tenants.

 

Dan has close ties with cabinet ministers, Knesset members and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. Since the 1980s, he has been a key figure in acquiring Palestinian properties in East Jerusalem for Jewish settlement, either from Palestinians or from the state, if the state determined they were formerly owned by Jews. In the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, for instance, there are now about 1,000 Jewish residents connected to Ateret Cohanim. There are also some 20 Jewish families in the Silwan neighborhood.

In 2005, a Palestinian resident of Silwan told Haaretz how Dan acquired the building known as Beit Yonatan. Dan took the Palestinian, who had built the building illegally and lived there with his family, on a trip to America that include call girls and casinos. One night, Dan left him alone with two women. That same night, Ateret Cohanim, with police backing, evicted the Palestinian family from Beit Yonatan. Dan never denied this story.

This might surprise people who know that Ateret Cohanim also runs a yeshiva headed by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, who is noted for his strict rulings on female modesty and the sanctity of the family. But the tapes indicate that such methods aren’t uncommon.

“I’ll give you the money,” Dan is heard telling a Palestinian property owner in the tape quoted in the first paragraph. “Take whoever you want. You want a girl? Take a girl with you.” They discuss how many girls and the desired age (18 to 22). The Palestinian specifies a “Russian” girl. Dan also offers Viagra.

After the seller leaves the room, Dan tells another person, “It went well, eh?” The other person says there will be no problem getting “a prostitute,” a room for the meeting and Viagra.

At that point, Dan sets a condition: “Don’t bring a Jewish girl.” The other man responds, apparently referring to prostitutes, “There are no Jewish girls in Israel today, all the girls are non-Jewish Russians.”

“Really? You’re sure?” Dan asks.

Next, he proposes having the seller examined by a doctor before giving him the Viagra. That angers the other man.

“The problem is you talk about all kinds of things, but you don’t pay,” he says. “You say, let’s bring this, let’s bring that, and it all costs money.” Dan responds, “If he likes porn so much, use that with him.”

Sex services aren’t Ateret Cohanim’s only method of persuasion. In one tape, Dan promises the seller that he’ll work via an intermediary. “I’ll build it so someone very strong, with a good reputation, will be up front, so that nobody will make any trouble,” he says.

The seller asks that the money be transferred through a company registered overseas and is promised one registered in the British Virgin Islands. Ateret Cohanim has at least 10 shell companies registered in overseas tax shelters.

Dan also asks about other problems the seller might have, like unresolved issues with the Israel Tax Authority or the Jerusalem municipality, and about the health of other relatives who might have rights in the property.

The issue of relatives also arose during a discussion of a different deal. In that recording, Ateret Cohanim personnel discuss ways to convince the relatives that their father has died in order to reach an agreement with them over an East Jerusalem property.

The person close to Dan described one additional tactic. After the contract is signed, Ateret Cohanim will often threaten to publicize the sale agreement — something that could endanger the seller’s life — unless the seller significantly lowers the agreed-upon price.

“What can the Arab do?” this source said. “Ask for the money? Go to court? They exploit his weakness. When I asked Mati ‘Why are you cheating these people?’ he said, “We didn’t cheat them, we simply didn’t pay.’ That’s how he sees it; in his view, it isn’t cheating. Nobody can sue them.”

Jerusalem's Petra and Imperial hotels. The properties are part of the Greek Orthodox Church's controversial real estate deals.
Jerusalem’s Petra and Imperial hotels. The properties are part of the Greek Orthodox Church’s controversial real estate deals. Emil Salman

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The recordings also shed light on a legal battle now being waged in the Supreme Court between Ateret Cohanim and the Greek Patriarchate over three East Jerusalem buildings sold to Ateret Cohanim in 2004 by the deposed former patriarch, Irenaios. The church wants the sale canceled, saying the price was unreasonable and the deal stemmed from corruption under Irenaios. The Jerusalem District Court rejected its suit, so the church appealed.

A recording from a few years before that sale proves that at least for one building, the Petra Hotel near Jaffa Gate, Dan knew the $500,000 price was far below its real value. In this recording, someone proposed that Ateret Cohanim pay $4 million for a protected tenancy. Protected tenancy fees are usually around half the price of a purchase or a long-term lease.

Dan responded that an assessor valued the tenancy at $1.3 million. The other person retorted that buying the property would cost $10 million. Dan considered that too low. If purchased, “it would be worth $100 million,” he said.

Even assuming he was exaggerating, Dan clearly knew the building was worth far more than $500,000. Yet for that price, Ateret Cohanim got not only the four-story Petra Hotel, but another building next door which one source said is worth “at least $2 million” due to its extremely desirable location.

The assessment Dan cited in the recording was apparently never presented in court. Instead, Ateret Cohanim submitted an assessment valuing the hotel at just 1.2 million shekels ($350,000). That convinced the district court the $500,000 price was reasonable.

The person close to Dan said the low price might have resulted from Ateret Cohanim’s connections with the church, and particularly the man called Hai, who is described in the recordings as someone able to influence church policy on property sales.

Dan and Geva both declined to comment for this report.

Nir Hasson
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.833169

Arab League to hold meeting on Jerusalem next month

January 10, 2018

CAIRO (Reuters) – The Arab League will meet on Feb. 1 to discuss how to counter U.S. President Donald Trump’s move last month to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Egypt’s state news agency MENA said on Wednesday.

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Birds fly on a foggy day near the Dome of the Rock, located in Jerusalem’s Old City on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, Jerusalem, January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Six Arab foreign ministers who met in Amman last week said Arab states would embark on a diplomatic drive to persuade the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital on territory captured by Israel in the 1967 war.

Arab foreign ministers said in an emergency meeting held following Trump’s decision on December 6 that the move would spur violence throughout the region. They described Trump’s announcement as a “dangerous violation of international law” which had no legal impact.

In recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, Trump reversed decades of U.S. policy, imperiling Middle East peace efforts and upsetting the Arab world and Western allies alike.

The status of Jerusalem – home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions – is one of the biggest obstacles to reaching a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Reporting by Ali Abdelaty, writing by Amina Ismail; Editing by Gareth Jones

Rohingya insurgents say they have no option but to fight Myanmar

January 7, 2018

Rohingya Muslim child cries as she stands amid a crowd of elders to receive food being distributed near Balukhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (AP)

YANGON: Rohingya Muslim insurgents said on Sunday they have no option to fight what they called Myanmar state-sponsored terrorism to defend the Rohingya community, and they demanded that the Rohingya be consulted on all decisions affecting their future.

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The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) launched raids on the Myanmar security forces on Aug. 25, which sparked sweeping counter-insurgency operations in the Muslim-majority north of Rakhine State that led to widespread violence and arson and an exodus of some 650,000 Rohingya villagers to Bangladesh.
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The United Nations condemned the Myanmar military campaign as ethnic cleansing. Buddhist-majority Myanmar rejected that.
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But since the August raids, the small insurgent group has launched few if any attacks until Friday, when its fighters ambushed a Myanmar military truck, wounding several members of the security forces.
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“ARSA has … no other option but to combat ‘Burmese state-sponsored terrorism’ against the Rohingya population for the purpose of defending, salvaging and protecting the Rohingya community,” the group said in a statement signed by leader Ata Ullah and posted on Twitter.
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“Rohingya people must be consulted in all decision-making that affects their humanitarian needs and political future.”
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The ARSA claimed responsibility for the Friday ambush but gave no details of the clash.
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A Myanmar government spokesman declined to make any immediate comment saying he had yet to read the statement. A military spokesman declined to make any immediate comment about the security situation in the north of Rakhine State.
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The area is largely off-limits to reporters.
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Authorities have previously said attacks by the insurgents would be met with force and they ruled out any negotiations with “terrorists.”
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The ARSA dismisses any links to Islamist militant groups and says it is fighting to end the oppression of the Rohingya people.
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Rohingya have been denied citizenship, freedom of movement and access to services such as health care. Myanmar regards them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
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Serious communal violence between Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists erupted in 2012 and sporadic unrest followed.
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The violence that began in August and the refugee crisis it caused has drawn international condemnation and raised doubts about Myanmar’s transition to democracy after nearly 50 years of military rule.
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ARSA did not say where leader Ata Ullah was but Myanmar suspects the insurgents flee into Bangladesh then slip back into Myanmar to launch attacks.
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Myanmar and Bangladesh have been discussing a plan to repatriate the refugees but more insecurity in Myanmar is likely to raise even more doubts about how quickly that might happen.
The refugees complain that they have not been consulted about their repatriation.

Outrage as Danish MP calls for Muslims to worship in warehouses

January 5, 2018

Danish People’s Party leader Kristian Thulesen pictured at the Danish Parliament Building in Copenhagen in December, 2015. A party spokesman said Muslim worship was “fine” if the praying ritual takes place in “normal buildings without minarets”, such as “offices or warehouses.” (Reuters)

LONDON: The Danish People’s Party (DPP) has sparked outrage by calling for Muslims to move their worship to “unmarked” buildings.

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The right-wing party’s spokesperson, Martin Henriksen, told Arab News, Muslim worship is “fine” if the praying ritual takes place in “normal buildings without minarets”, such as “offices or warehouses.”
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“We take a stand against the divisive symbolism of traditional mosques,” Henriksen said. “We stand against those who try to divide themselves from society,” the MP added.
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Henriksen said he was “not against Muslims or Islam” and that individuals should be free to practice their faith as long as they abide by the rules of the “Danish constitution.”
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The populist, anti immigration DPP on Thursday called for a ban on the construction of new mosques, as part of a plan to tackle “ghettos” in the country. Other measures unveiled in the package include an 8 p.m. curfew for young people.
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Henriksen confirmed that the DPP, which is the second largest party in the Danish parliament, aims to ban the construction of mosques in cities where there are “social problems.”
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The Danish MP’s rhetoric is redolent of the 2009 Swiss minaret referendum, the federal popular initiative in Switzerland, which successfully prevented the construction of Mosque minarets in the country.
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The Swiss government opposed the ban, saying it would harm the nation’s image, particularly in the eyes of Muslims.
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But Martin Baltisser, the Swiss People’s Party general secretary, told the BBC at the time: “This was a vote against minarets as symbols of Islamic power.”
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Chris Doyle, director of CAABU, Council for Arab British Understanding, told Arab News: “This is a lop-sided view. What about churches or Hindu temples? All these can also been as symbols of different religions living peacefully and cohabiting and assimilating well. It’s wrong to point out mosques and make Muslims feel like they are third class citizens. A minaret is something that shouldn’t be seen as wrong or divisive in any way shape or form.”
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He continued: “As if not building mosques would in any way resolve the problem. This problem is not about mosques … and this rhetoric is pandering to a populist ethos which is anti-Muslim. (The DPP’s proposal is) completely counterproductive and wrong at every level.”
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Doyle added: “It will only exacerbate hate crime and bigotry which is growing in Europe. There are concerns about mass immigration into the EU and legitimate worries about extremist attacks in Europe, but none of that warrants the stopping of building mosques.”
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Shaista Aziz, a journalist and founder of the Everyday Bigotry Project, told Arab News: “Why should mosques not look like mosques? Freedom to worship is a basic human right and should be afforded to all citizens including Muslims. It appears Denmark wants to go down the same road as France and push Muslims into unmarked buildings – the only thing this does is create further alienation of a marginalized community and create further hostility at a time of rising open racism and anti Muslim sentiment in Europe.”
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The DPP is a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament, which includes center-right parties like the UK’s ruling Conservative Party.
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Doyle added that the Conservatives should “seriously question” being allies in the European Parliament with a party which has such extremist views.
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Benjamin Martill, Dahrendorf Fellow in Europe after Brexit at LSE, told Arab News: “The sources of these policies are not difficult to discern. Communities across Europe, reeling from years of wage stagnation and austerity-induced cuts to public services, are looking for someone to blame. Blaming immigrants, Muslims and other nations for society’s problems is scapegoating, pure and simple.”
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Martill said the implications for the Conservative party are ‘interesting.’
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The LSE fellow said that to suggest the Conservative party would endorse any such policy is “clearly very far fetched.”
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He said: “Whilst the statements of some Conservative backbenchers do express nationalist and sometimes Islamophobic sentiments, these are generally in the minority, and tend to be quite indirect. Amongst all her bluster about a “great global Britain,” Theresa May’s statements … have been very supportive of Britain’s multicultural heritage.”
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US: Muslims to become second-largest religious group

January 5, 2018

Al Jajeera

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About 3.45 million Muslims were living in the US in 2017, representing 1.1 percent of the population [Julie Jacobson/AP]

Muslims are expected to become the second-largest religious group in the United States after Christians by 2040, according to a new report.

There were 3.45 millions Muslims living in the US in 2017 representing about 1.1 percent of the total population, a study by Pew Research Center found.

At present, the number of Jewish people outnumber Muslims as the second-largest religious group but that is expected to change by 2040 because “the US Muslim population will grow much faster than the country’s Jewish population”, the report said.

How many Muslims are there in the US? As of 2017, 3.45 million (or 1.1% of total population), according to new @pewresearch estimates. http://pewrsr.ch/2lP2MKc  pic.twitter.com/2WrynrD8WR

Jews outnumber Muslims in the US today, but by 2040, Muslims are projected to outnumber Jews. http://pewrsr.ch/2lP2MKc  pic.twitter.com/VawIyPLO5E

View image on Twitter

American Muslims will total 8.1 million, or 2.1 percent, of the population by 2050.

The number of followers of Islam in the US has grown at a rate of about 100,000 per year because of the migration of Muslims and higher fertility rates among Muslim Americans, Pew Center found during its demographic and survey research.

“Since our first estimate [2007] of the size of the Muslim American population, the number of US Muslims has been growing rapidly,” it said.

Christianity is by far the largest religion in the United States with different denominations representing about 71 percent of the population.

Total American Muslim population share projected to grow

Muslim Americans and US liberal values

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/01/muslims-largest-religious-group-180104093242445.html

Muslim Americans and US liberal values

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

Indian Government Secret Campaign to “Declare Stateless” Muslims, Illegal Muslim Immigrants? — Even targeting Muslims who are Indian citizens.

January 4, 2018

Reuters

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Women stand next to policemen as they wait to check their names on the draft list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) at an NRC centre in Chandamari village in Goalpara district, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Anuwar Hazarika Reuters

FOFONGA, India (Reuters) – Marzina Bibi, a Muslim woman living in India’s northeastern state of Assam, is petrified she will be declared stateless.

The 26-year-old’s name was not on a preliminary list of citizens that was published at midnight on Sunday, although she holds a voter identity card and had voted in state elections in 2016.

“Why are they doing this to me?” Bibi asked, sitting beside a bamboo mat she was weaving outside her mud house in Assam’s Fofonga village. “They think I am a Bangladeshi. I was born here, my parents were born here, I am an Indian.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which came to power in Assam in the April, 2016 elections, vowed during the campaign to act against illegal Muslim immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh. But rights activists say the drive is also targeting Muslims who are Indian citizens.

Two national spokesmen for the BJP declined to comment.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Home Affairs in New Delhi did not reply to e-mails and a telephone call seeking comment.

Citizenship and illegal migration are volatile issues in tea-growing and oil-rich Assam, home to more than 32 million people, about a third of whom are Muslims. Hundreds of people were killed in the 1980s in a violent protest by a native Assamese group against outsiders from the state taking the bulk of jobs and cornering resources, including land.

For the latest update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), all residents of Assam had to produce documents proving that they or their families lived in the country before March 24, 1971, to be recognized as Indian citizens.

According to the preliminary list of the NRC, about 19 million people in Assam have now been verified as Indian citizens. More names will be added, and officials say the final list is likely to be published in July.

Reuters spoke to nearly two dozen Muslims, including Bibi, from paddy-growing villages around Fofonga who said their names were not on the preliminary list.

“I feel we are targeted because we are Muslims,” said Bibi, who said she has already proved she was Indian – she was jailed for eight months on charges of being an illegal migrant from Bangladesh and was let off only after showing documents attesting to her nationality.

Surrounded by her neighbors in the village, she showed her voter identity card and the court order for her release from jail.

NO RELIGIOUS BIAS

Women stand next to policemen as they wait to check their names on the draft list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) at an NRC centre in Chandamari village in Goalpara district, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Anuwar Hazarika

The BJP has said previous governments have included many Bangladeshi immigrants on electoral rolls to buy votes.

At the local NRC office in the Muslim-majority area, only around 4,500 people had made it to the preliminary list out of nearly 11,000 who had applied.

The government officer in charge of the center, Gautam Sharmah, said there was no religious bias against Muslims.

“That’s impossible. We only look at documents,” Sharmah said at his office, as people trickled in to look for their names on the second day of the list’s publication. “The time taken in the verification process depends on what kind of documents people submit.”

Reuters saw a tribal Hindu man leaving the NRC office with a smile after being told that the names of all six members of his family were on the list. Soon after, two Muslim women came with their infants, and left disappointed.

Hundreds of thousands of people fled to India from Muslim-majority Bangladesh after it declared independence from Pakistan on March 26, 1971, setting off a nine-month civil war. Most of them settled in Assam and the neighboring state of West Bengal, where there are similar demands to send back illegal Muslim immigrants.

The migrants include many Hindus, but the federal BJP government has said they will not be deported.

Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam’s finance minister who is also in charge of the citizenship register, told Reuters that all those whose names do not figure in the final NRC list would be segregated.

“Deportation is an issue handled by the central government,” Sarma said.

“Hindu Bangladeshis who had faced persecution should be given shelter in India and that is the central government’s stand.”

Muslims leaders have called the NRC a tool to make them stateless, likening themselves to Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya minority. They have also warned of unrest.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal told the Times of India daily that the “people who are declared foreigners will be barred from all constitutional rights, including fundamental and electoral. They will have only one right — human rights as guaranteed by the U.N. that include food, shelter and clothing”.

In Fofonga, Bibi said she would challenge the list if it did not include her and her family as citizens.

“We are poor people, my husband is a laborer,” she said, going back to weaving her mat. “But I will go to court if we are left out.”

Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan